Eminem - Relapse

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Even though his skill set have grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, his ability to make great albums seems to be moving in the other direction.

Whether you listen to him for his wordplay or for the Pop singles, if you're happy he's back or you just miss the days with The Bass Brothers, love him or hate him, Eminem's mind-bending talents simply can't be denied. Few, ever, can rhyme entire bars the way he does, let alone match his seemingly never-ending variety of flows and cadences. At the same time, he is also the man with all the talent in the world who has chosen to make songs like "Big Weenie" and "Just Lose It."

Eminem has always been about emotional ammunition, which is exactly why The Marshall Mathers LP is his magnum opus. It combined the hilarious shock value of his first album with the issues of his new life; fame and blame. Encore [click to read] largely faltered because he had little to rap about. That, and he wasn't really funny anymore. With five years passing and his best friend being murdered, his drug addiction and the vastly changing landscape in Hip Hop and the world; he's got a lyrical stockpile comparable to North Korea.

It is clear from the jump that the Relapse isn't just referring to his falling off the wagon, but a relapse to his Slim Shady persona. For those keeping score, the intro "Dr. West" (featuring The Wire's own Jimmy McNulty), plays off the intro on the rare Slim Shady EP. Of course, the inherent problem there is that there is little to no shock value left in that shtick. The concept rolls along nicely to start as the stunning homicidal fantasy "3 A.M." [click to view] follows Em being awoken from the bad dream that was the intro. He continues to put the pieces into place with "My Mom," explaining where he got his first taste of drugs and of crazy. The topic may be a bit tiresome at this point, but its a thematic song, given the overall concept.

Relapse quickly takes a tailspin as Slim does everything he can to bring back that shock value on "Insane" [click to listen]. Getting raped and sodomized by his step-dad, "feltching," nothing appears out of bounds here. But unlike the early days when he recounted his mother beating him until his brain fell out of his skull, this isn't the cartoonish humor. Instead, the truth outweighs the purpose, and for the first time ever, Eminem's life confessions might just be recorded over-shares.

Not to be overlooked here is that Dr. Dre produced or co-produced every song on the album, the first time he's done so in a decade and only the second time a project received this since Doggystyle. The results are shockingly ho-hum for arguably Hip Hop's G.O.A.T. on the boards. In particular, it's the middle of the album that suffers with songs like "Hello," "Same Song & Dance" and "Medicine Ball." With only his work on Jay-Z's Kingdom Come [click to read] as an exception, never has Dre produced such mediocre songs, which are really only saved from being completely worthless by Em's staggering technique (though definitely not by his subject matter). There is some redemption with the haunting "Stay Wide Awake" [click to listen] and the somber "Deja Vu," both of which perfectly capture Marshall's mood. He also laces a few straight forward head-nodders that do the trick ("Old Times Sake" [click to listen], "Crack A Bottle" [click to listen]) and steps outside of the box for "Bagpipes From Baghdad." Dope as they may be for 2009, they still aren't the type of beats that create a legend.

It is "Deja Vu" that finally has some meaning to it as he actually addresses his problem. Eminem is always at his best when he gets personal, and this is no exception; "Maybe if I just drink half/ I'll be half buzzed for half of the time / Now who's the mastermind behind that little line? / For that kind of rational, man I've got half a mind / To have another half a glass of wine, sounds asinine." To the surprise of many, the one and only time on the album he mentions the death of Proof also comes here when he laments; "Wouldn't even be taking this shit if DeShaun didn't die / Oh yeah, there's an excuse, you lose Proof so you use / There's no rules, it's cool if it helping you to get through / It's 12 noon, ain't no harm in self-inducing a snooze / What else is new? / Fuck it, what would Elvis do in your shoes?" "Beautiful" is another step in the right direction as Slim keeps it brutally honest, it still wins even though the production and hook don't measure up.

For one of the very few superstars in Hip Hop who has made his career on lyrical content, it is pretty disappointing that after a five year hiatus he came back with so little to say, without his trademark colorful canvas. I suppose the writing was on the wall when you consider the album title and cover, but was anyone expecting an album that is 99% drug/murder content? Why weren't there more songs like "Deja Vu," after all, this is a 37 year-old man who has been through a lot in the past few years. The lows aren't as low as Encore, but there aren't the plateaus either. Even though his skill set have grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, his ability to make great albums seems to be moving in the other direction.


  • I dont have one

    U cant say recovery is better, ur just fucking retarted if u say that. Relapse is great cuz its diff than any other rap album ever made. No other rapper would have the creativity to use an accent for a change and see how it works. Recovery was very serious and wasnt as storytelling, it was more of just trying to make up for his past cuz he felt relapse sucked, which makes no sence

  • Arian

    Relapse 3.5 and Recovery a 4 wow that makes no sense.This is Ems most darkest album with funny tales about Rape,Murder and Drugs this album is more crazier than the Slim Shady LP.The Accents make the album better in my opinion and there is storytelling on the track Same Song and Dance. I would give this album a 4.5/5

  • Anonymous

    Relapse just had to lose those accents and this album would be so amazing. It has great lyricism, great content and great flow. The beats are really good. Overall, 4/5.

  • jasonforhees

    The whole album is about raping, stalking, killing and eating woman. fuck it y not lol

  • Underrated

    This album besides ready to die has the most amazing flows...ive never heard anyone flow like this...soo fuckin underrated

  • Anonymous

    Why did people hate Relapse? Read this article. http://www.eminemalbum2014.com/haterelapse.htm

  • Anonymous

    Eminem use to be a great storyteller, not anymore, white people on the internet crack me up

  • Anonymous

    3.5/5 is a great rating. The subject matter is like 2.5/5 and the accents are kind of annoying, however the lyricism and storytelling on this is crazy.

  • XDxDxD

    This album is kinda funny but it's not that that it's supposed to be. Still prefer it to Encore and Re-Up

  • whitey

    u ppl r so fucking stupid this album blows any album out of the water in the past 5 yrs..and ppl just bitch about how eminem is white but its ironic bc hip hop is supposed to b a black mans thing but a white person is the g.o.a.t. eminem for president ! 1ne

  • K-Lam

    This album was dope, recovery was still better but this album blew Encore/The Re-Up out of the water. And IMO Its better then the slim shady lp.

  • Nemo

    Very underrated, lyrically better than Recovery.

    • TiiDo

      The whole concept of Relapse was insane, he just didn't execute it very well. I agree, lyrically Relapse was better. His execution let him down. If Dre had worked a little harder on the beats, maybe if they'd made Relapse a concept album who knows.

  • lil roc

    This album to me is eminems 3rd best album I feel that marshall mathers lp and eminem show and relapse r classics.Alot of people say things like listen to what hes rappin about he talkin about drugs killin bithces gettin raped,and their absolutely right but listen to how he raps about it.The detail and the lirics ang the pricision u probably would have heard all of that if u would pull ur skirt down 4 a minute and grow some balls.1st of all insane wuz a hot song i admit its kinda crazy but its nothin compared to fack,u should look it up some time if u want to hear some real crazy eminem,but back to the album.Dre did every beat except 4 beautiful and their all hard.The album actually tells a story from the 1st track to crack a bottle.How he wuz sick and needed help u can tell from the 1st couple of songs and gradually got better by the time it got up to deja vu and beatiful.I left out underground cause it wuz more like a bonus track.He adopted a new flow that he uses on this cd and recovery thats crazy and seperates him from everyone else.I'm a grown man and do I beleive eminem is out runnin crazy choppin peoples body to pieces wit a chainsaw no,I know the difference between fiction and fact.Deja vu iz the realest song on the album by far,but thats the thing hes eminem and I don't really listen to him 4 facts and shit.He's the only rapper I know that can make the songs he makes and get away wit it I been listenen to him since slim shady lp so im used to everything he raps about.What makes the album a classic is that its like listenen to a horror movie I can imagine everything hes rappin about and his music takes u 4 a ride and thats what any good album should do.I'm not phased at all by this cd i didn't think it would be that hot and thats what surprised me the most about this album.He had a drug problem been away from rap 4 like 4yrs and he came back sharper than a mother fuckin machete.This shit iz way better than 70% of the music out there.I recommend u pick this up along wit recovery unless of course u wanna go out and cop that new solja boi and gucchi mann cd thats out lol.I'm open 4 discussion wit any body and I mean ANYBODY. So if u agree or disagree just send me a reply to this comment ONE!!!

  • c red

    crazy album but recovery way better

  • HipHopBeliever

    yeah i think the review on the album was about right although i liked same song & dance, beautiful and insane, although its not as obviously funny it still makes you want to rap along with it

  • dSaint

    Eh, I'm as big an Em fan as any, real talk, but this was underwhelming. Deja Vu and Beautiful Em I want to hear on the album, Underground Em I only wanna hear on features and freestyles. Insane Em I could go the rest of my life without hearing again. This shit is probably worse than Encore, which I think gets underrated because the filler fucking sucks. Still it's best tracks shit on this CD's best. He's gotten much better though, starting with Forever he started moving in the right direction. He's absolutely killed some features, a freestyle and his first single is dope. He will be back, I believe that, but this wasn't his triumphant return.

  • c/gaddic

    So many comments? Damn! it's a pity when one of the most lyrically insane albumsof the year is at a 3.5 rating on HHDDX and user rating Yeah the content is disgusting and monotonous but check out the wordplay on Underground and Stay wide awake It's insane!

  • Drucifer1983

    Damn, over 1,000 coments I've been playing this on since I got it last year and I think its pretty good, not as good as the first 2 but still quality